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By: Robert Janis

Off-road Motorsports Hall of Fame
The Off-Road Motorsports Hall of Fame

Front entrance to our home of the Off-Road Motorsports Hall of Fame.
Front entrance to our home of the Off-Road Motorsports Hall of Fame.

Have you ever wondered who the Babe Ruth of off-road motorsports is? Or who are the Jim Browns, the Bill Russells, and the Gordie Howes of off-road motorsports?

All of the sports stars listed are members of their respective hall of fame--baseball, football, basketball, and hockey. Did you know that there is an Off-Road Motorsports Hall of Fame?

Actually, there has been two incarnations of the ORMHOF.

The Creation
The first Off-Road Motorsports Hall of Fame was founded in 1978. The most instrumental person in its creation was Ed Pearlman. Pearlman was the founder of the North American Off-Road Racing Association (NORRA). This association was the first recognized sanctioning group exclusively for off-road racing events. Pearlman and the NORRA created the Mexican 1000 Off-Road Race later known as the Baja 1000 in 1967 and managed its development through 1972.

Pearlman established the Off-Road Motorsports Hall of Fame Finding because of a need for some kind of institution to recognize the achievements of people who contributed to the development and growth of off-road racing. The first 16 members were enshrined in 1978. They included Parnelli Jones, Steve McQueen, and Malcolm Smith. In 1980, five more off-road racing phenomenons were added.

There was one major problem, however. There was no brick and mortar, real-life location that was being used to exhibit the accomplishments of the men enshrined in the Hall. Pearlman dedicated a lot of his time trying to make the Hall permanent. However, he was unsuccessful; and the Hall and NORRA vanished for 15 years.

Then in 1995, Rod Hall acquired the remaining assets and name rights of the North American Off-Road Racing Association. Hall is an off-road legend in his own right. He has been racing since the 1950s. He won the NORRA Mexican 1000 Rally in Baja in 1967, and has raced in every Baja 1000 race in that race’s 39-year history. He has won more than 160 major off-road racing events, more than a dozen SCORE/HDRA, and Best in the Desert Racing Association championship titles. In the 1980s he won 35 consecutive races in a row which is still the longest unbroken string of race victories in off-road racing history. He still races for a group that he helped form, Team HUMMER. Also, he has been enshrined into the Off-Road Motorsports Hall of Fame.

When he took control of the assets of NORRA, he discovered evidence of Pearlman’s attempts to create the Off-Road Motorsports Hall of Fame. He decided then to re-establish the institution.

Hall enlisted Gordon Horsley to help in the reincarnation of the Hall. Horsley still is the board secretary of the National Automobile Museum (The Harrah Collection), and he has been a life-long racing enthusiast.

For the next six years, Hall and Horsley built the infrastructure for the Hall. They formed a strong board of directors and brought in a number of advisors and also crafted the nomination and induction process, raised the needed funds to make the establishment of the Hall a reality, and Horsley helped in getting the National Automobile Museum to dedicate space to serve as the home for the Hall.

Finally, in 2003, the Off-Road Motorsports Hall of Fame was opened.

Exhibit Area
Exhibit Area

The Off-Road Motorsports Hall of Fame Today
Today the board of directors of the ORMHOF includes Rod Hall, chairman; Robert Bower, executive director; George Thompson, secretary; Michael Klaich, treasurer; and four directors -- Gordon Horsley, Timothy Lukas, Dan Morgan, and Mike Winkel. The advisory committee includes: Roy Davidson, Hemet Jeep Club; Walker Evans, Walker Evans Racing and ORMHOF inductee; Sal Fish, director of SCORE International and a ORMHOF inductee; Mark Smith, ORMHOF inductee; Jackie Frady, executive director of the National Automobile Museum; Mark McMillin, president of the Corky McMillin Companies; Roy Denner, of the Off-Road Business Association; Dick Landfield of Fairway Ford; Larry Minor, Sands Sports and ORMHOF inductee; Bob Reed, of the California League of Off-Road Voters; K.J. Howe, former director of Mint 400; Kreg Donahoe, president of Donahoe Racing Products; Bruce Ogilvie, American Honda Corp.; Frank Vessels, Vessels Stallion Farm; and Brian Chuchua, ORMHOF inductee.

Disciplines represented in the Off-Road Motorsports Hall of Fame include Competition and Recreation, Motorcycles and ATVs, Sand Sports, Rallying, Off-Road Racing, Rock Crawling, and Four Wheeling. A Pioneer category includes Journalism, Advocacy and Industry. ATV has been a part since the first incarnation of the Hall in 1978.

All nominees must have at least 15 years experience and involvement in off-road motorsports. They must have built, designed, driven, maintained, owned, prepared, piloted, promoted, ridden or supported an off-road vehicle and has made a significant contribution to off-road motorsports in business, history, design, engineering, prestige of the sport, and/or growth of the sport.

According to Bob Bower, executive director of the Off-Road Motorsports Hall of Fame, people who are a part of the greater off-road community can nominate candidates for induction. They receive a Nomination Packet which includes a complete explanation of the nomination criteria, the categories, the voting process and the approval procedure. The packet can be downloaded from the Hall’s website (http://www.ormhof.org).

“The individual who wishes to nominate a person must do the research, fill in the forms in the packet, and submit the packet to the ORMHOF before the annual deadline,” explained Bower. “The depth of research, the quality of the homework, and the information provided are the only sources of information the voting committee has to evaluate.”

A voting committee consisting of people who are a part of the off-road community convenes once a year to consider each nomination. The committee has 20 members only-- three of whom are from the ORMHOF Board of Directors. Once nominated, a candidate remains on the ballot for three years. If not inducted during that period, they are eligible for nomination after an additional three years. The maximum number of inductees is nine, but there is no minimum. If the voting committee decides none of the nominees merit induction, then there will be no induction for that year.

As previously mentioned, the National Automobile Museum (The Harrah Collection), located in Reno, Nevada, includes the ORMHOF exhibit. More than 85,000 people visit the museum each year, and it is recognized as one of the top 10 auto museums in the country. The 3,500 square foot ORMHOF exhibit includes a computer-driven kiosk that offers in-depth information on each of the inductees enshrined in the Hall.

Inductee Wall
Inductee Wall

The ORMHOF Website
The Off-Road Motorsports Hall of Fame has a website that includes the history and stories of the inductees as well as links to the various partners of the Hall. (http://www.ormhof.org)

There are plans to enhance the website to include a virtual tour of the Off-Road Motorsports Hall of Fame that will show vehicle exhibits and the inductee wall. The website will also include a film archives and visitors will be able to purchase memberships, selected photographs and learn of upcoming Hall events.

Members of the Off-Road Motorsports Hall of Fame

Clark Collins Edo Ansoloni
Sal Fish William A. Bryan
Bob Ham Ray Moon Gilmon George
Macey L. (Corky) McMillin Mark Smith Richard Landfield
Ivan (Ironman) Stewart Dick Cepek Walter Lott
Rod Hall Brian Chuchua Sue Mead
Scott McKenzie Pete Condos Mickey Thompson
Akton (AK) Miller Charlie Erickson Frank Vessels
Larry Minor Don Francisco
Roy Spuhler James Garner
Ed Waldheim Vic Hickey
Herman Booy Parnelli Jones
Carla Boucher Steve McQueen
John Buffum Bruce Meyers
Jean Calvin Drino Miller
Edward Dunkley Ed Pearlman
Walker Evans Malcolm Smith
Harry Buschert Bill Stroppe
Bud Ekins Thurston Warn
John Lawlor Vic Wilson


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